Amid ceasefire violation by Pakistan Rangers and the death of civilians in Jammu, no sweets were exchanged between the Rangers and the Border Security Force (BSF) at Attari-Wagah Joint Check Post (JCP) on Monday.
BSF Deputy Inspector General at Amritsar sector M F Farooqui said the Rangers conveyed their decision to not offer sweets to the BSF on Bakrid during a flag meeting of company commanders of both sides on Sunday evening.
The BSF and the rangers exchange pleasantries and sweets on a number of occasions and festivals.
“During a flag meeting held on Sunday evening, the Rangers conveyed that they will not offer Eid sweets to BSF on Monday. We reciprocated with matching magnitude and did not offer any sweets to them either. On Eid, it is the Pakistani side that offers sweets first,” Farooqui said.
While the Rangers are the first to offer sweets on Eid twice a year, the BSF offers sweets and gifts on Diwali and Republic Day. Both Pakistan and India also offer sweets to each other during their respective Independence Day celebrations. As a routine practice, a flag meeting is held on the eve of exchanging pleasantries and sweets wherein, among other things, ranks of officers coming for the exchange from both sides are matched.
“The Rangers did not cite any reasons for not offering Eid sweets to BSF in Sunday’s flag meeting. They only said that there was an order from higher authorities to not offer sweets to BSF this time,” said BSF (Punjab Frontier) inspector general Ashok Kumar.
The exchange of Eid sweets did not take place at Hussainiwala border in Ferozepur district either.
The development is unusual given that the tradition has been on for a long time and even the killings of five Army soldiers at LoC in August 2013 had not affected it.
“The exchange of sweets is part of bilateral relations between the two nations. It is an agreed upon official activity to maintain harmony and cordial relations with each other. It is not that we exchange sweets out of any affection,” DIG Farooqui told The Indian Express. “We will lodge our protest with the Rangers on this,” he added.
BSF IG Ashok Kumar said that it was likely that the prevailing scenario at LoC in Jammu led to the Pakistan decision. “It might have looked unusual to exchange sweets at a time when there was so much tension at border,” Kumar said.
Farooqui said that whether the BSF would offer sweets to the Rangers or not on Diwali would depend on how they react to the protest BSF will lodge. “If the response from Pakistani side is not good, we will have to think twice on whether to offer them Diwali sweets or not,” Farooqui added.
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